Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 644–654

Development of size constancy in children: A test of the metacognitive theory

Research Articles

DOI: 10.3758/APP.71.3.644

Cite this article as:
Granrud, C.E. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics (2009) 71: 644. doi:10.3758/APP.71.3.644


Two studies investigated children’s abilities to estimate the sizes of distant objects. Each included a size estimation task and a size-distance knowledge test, which assessed children’s understanding of the effects of distance on objects’ image sizes and perceived sizes. In Study 1 (N=79, age range=5–10 years), high-knowledge children (those with above-median size-distance knowledge scores) made nearly accurate size estimates from a distance of 61 m and often reported using deliberate strategies to estimate size, whereas low-knowledge children underestimated size at this distance and typically reported no strategy use. In Study 2 (N=60, age range=6–11 years), high-knowledge children made nearly accurate size estimates from 61 m when given objectivesize instructions and underestimated size when given apparent-size instructions. Low-knowledge children underestimated size in response to both instruction sets. The results suggest that age-related changes in size estimation accuracy result from the development of cognitive abilities necessary for using deliberate strategies to supplement perception.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of Northern ColoradoGreeley